The aim of this study was to characterize and report the epidemiological data regarding pediatric facial dog bites. For this study, a retrospective chart review was used. This study was performed at a large tertiary pediatric hospital. All children younger than 18 years who sought medical attention after a facial dog bite between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2008, were included. Demographic and epidemiologic data were collected and analyzed. A total of 537 children were identified. The average age was 4.59 ± 3.36 years, with a slight male preponderance (52.0%). The majority of dog bites occurred in children 5 years of age or younger (68.0%). Almost all (89.8%) of the dogs were known to the children. When circumstances surrounding the bite were documented, over half (53.2%) of the cases were provoked. The most common breeds were mixed breed (23.0%), Labrador retriever (13.7%), Rottweiler (4.9%), and German shepherd (4.4%). Inpatient treatment was required in 121 (22.5%) patients with an average length of stay of 2.96 ± 2.77 days. Children 5 years or younger were more likely to be hospitalized than older children. Children 5 years old and younger are at high risk for being bitten in the face by a familiar dog and are more likely to require hospitalization than older children. Certain dog breeds are more likely to bite, and there is often a history of provocation. There is a tremendous financial and psychosocial burden associated with dog bites, and prevention strategies should focus on education with the aid of public policies and better documentation and reporting systems.
Keywords: dog bite; facial dog bite; pediatric dog bite.